President Ali exposes opposition’s duplicity in managing bauxite, sugar sectors
– says history will not be rewritten by political opportunists
– highlights differences in gov’t policies
President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has called out the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU\AFC) opposition on their continuous hypocrisy and political opportunism on key productive sectors – bauxite and sugar, that were grossly neglected and in poor condition during its five-year tenure in office.
The head of state held a 51-minute discussion on Monday evening to highlight the sectors’ performance under previous governments while exposing the opposition for using these industries to create division and fulfil its selfish, political desire.
President Ali is adamant that the history of these key productive sectors must not be rewritten by those who have comprehensively destroyed and neglected the nation whilst in government.
“This is one of the diversionary political tools that they continue to use to create the opportunism for them in the divisive politics that they pursue, using bauxite and sugar… it is time for us to expose this political opportunism,” President Ali underscored.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance and Public Service, Dr Ashni Singh appeared alongside the President and he noted that during the 1960s, bauxite productivity was prominent until it was nationalized by the PNC Administration. This led to gross mismanagement, lack of investment, and a total collapse of the industry.
According to the statistics presented, production levels from 1979-1992 under the PNC were significantly low compared to the 1993-2014 period under the PPP/C Government, which kept the industry alive by attracting international investment.
“We were able to attract international investors in Linden and the Berbice River that saw us producing at an average of almost 2 million metric tons over that period … As soon as we left office, that average collapsed … that is literally what we’re seeing there by the reduced average production of less than 1.5 million metric tons per annum during the 2015-2020 period. And that’s just been a historic pattern. Anti-investor, an anti-worker posture but taken by APNUAFC,” Dr Singh explained.
The senior minister emphasized that the APNU/AFC coalition’s negative stance towards workers resulted in the closure of RUSAL’s bauxite operation at Berbice River, leading to hundreds of people losing their jobs and the economic collapse of entire communities. Upon assuming office, the PPP/C government took steps to revive the industry by creating an investor-friendly environment.
This includes a US$120 million in Kiln 15 and Metallurgical Grade Bauxite (MAZ) Project, providing 500 direct job opportunities for Lindeners and other Guyanese among other related investments. And so, President Ali underscored that the government’s policies are crafted in the best interest of the country and the people of Guyana.
Moving on to the sugar industry, President Ali reminded the nation that the previous coalition government downsized the sugar industry, which resulted in its disrepair and left thousands of persons unemployed.
During a sitting of the National Assembly, a former vice-president of the coalition, Khemraj Ramjattan, defended the decision to stop investing in the sugar industry by stating that it would be unwise to continue pouring money into a failing sector. However, this decision directly and indirectly affected 40,000 persons and killed economies across the country.
The PPP/C Administration is now investing billions of dollars to fulfil its manifesto promise to rehire thousands of sugar workers and increase production in this industry.
Moreover, the administration is working with unions to boost the wages of workers. At the same time, a plan is being developed to train cane harvesters to operate machines and be part of the mechanisation process, which will not only allow them to operate the machines but also introduce a new form of operation.
“I think it’s very important that we examine all the sectors from a fact-based foundation. I want us to look at results, facts and the reality … This is not the time in our country for political opportunism. This is a time for hard work. This is a time for debates and ideas, critical analysis … we are open to criticism once it’s constructive. But a narrative that seeks to mislead people politically, and a narrative that seeks to reset historical truths would not be allowed,” the head of state expressed firmly.